How To Have Better Meetings According To Elon Musk

How To Have Better Meetings According To Elon Musk

In a wild coincidence I bought my partner a new notebook (she’s a bit of an office stationery addict) a new notebook that had “I survived another meeting that should have been an email” emblazoned across the cover. It turns out this is one of Elon Musk’s tactics for cutting through dumb meetings.

During a recent meeting, Musk addressed an attendee asking why they were in the meeting. It’s reported he said to the team member “You haven’t said anything. Why are you in here?”.

Meetings are a fact of modern corporate life. Heck, when when I worked in the corporate world, I recall having meetings about what would be covered in subsequent meetings. We actually had meetings about meetings.

As I became grumpier and more conscious of how much time was wasted in meetings, I refused to attend a meeting that didn’t have a set agenda with timings against each item and what the proposed outcome of each action was. For example, if a decision was required, then that needed to be made clear on the agenda.

I was even kicked off a national group for questioning how 20 people in a room, flying in from all over the country, eating gourmet sandwiches in an expensive venue was a good use of tax dollars and whether we’d get close to returning the value of the estimated $50,000 the meeting cost once you took into account travel, lost opportunity costs and food.

For large industry groups I worked on, I even went as far as canvassing meeting attendees by email ahead of time and using their input to put draft decisions in place so we could cut to the chase and not start everything from a blank slate.

What are your meeting tips? How do you get the most from meetings?


  • My last boss was a smoker, and would often nick out between meetings for a drag. If he didn’t come back in time he would expect us to start without him. No problem, until he would turn up just as we were closing out, and run through the whole thing again, line by line.

    • lol, I had a boss do something similar, either laze around all day or show up 30 min before office closed. Suddenly he would start doing his job and assign people work to do before they left, resulting in everyone having to stay an extra hour all the time. So Annoying!

  • I tried to schedule a weekly team meeting for 30 minutes which was all we needed to deal with formal matters during the early stage of a multi-year project.

    They practically staged a rebellion as they felt that anything under an hour was some kind of insult, … that didn’t let them turn up late, and be half-engaged with the meeting while they typed away on their laptops.

    • @machpety good luck doing this long term. Either you’ll never get any work done because everyone would distract you every 5 minutes burning an additional 12 minutes to re-focus OR you’ll miss important decisions since people will make decisions without you OR your boss will fire you if you don’t attend his meeting with 5 minutes notice.

  • I have always wanted to try running meetings with two rules:
    1) no laptops unless presenting
    2) everyone stands up.
    I have no idea if it would work but it would be interesting to try.

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